Yoga means different things to different people. I found what I was looking for in Jivamuktiyoga. The Bhakti (chanting om), talks about philosophy at the start of and during the class, the sequencing, the challenges. I have actually never had a bad Jivamukti-class, but I have been to several other crap ones the past 20 years.
When I started working in Stockholm I was saddened to realise was that the Jivamukti classes had all but dissappeared. Some, like wonderful Anna Hultman and Jonas Pinzke have left the country, others are still teaching but they dont call their classes Jivamukti anymore.
What has happened?
In the case of one yoga studio rumour goes they call most their classes ”hatha” or ”vinyasa” in order not to be too sect-like.
When I visited Urban Om yesterday, they told me they name all their classes ”strong flow”, slow flow” in order not to intimidate beginners.
Regardless of why one choose to remove the yoga brand name, this is a worrying development for several reasons:
A ”strong flow” can mean anything. What is so wonderful with a branded class like Jivamukti or Ashtanga is that I know what I will get.
”Flow”. Do they mean krama, the sequencing of postures? Or do they mean dancy wavy motions that I personally sincerely detest in a yoga class? The classes I have been to that have been called ”flow” has not been much different from the ”non-flow” ones.
”Vinyasa” can mean anything in Sweden. I went to a ”vinyasa flow” class at Yoga Shakti and it turned out being taught by a Nia instructor and was a dancy wavy style. I didnt want to do Nia, I wanted sun salutes, philosophy pranayama, classical yogaposes.
What is most worrying is that the classes I have attended at Yogayama have been devoid of any philosophy what so ever. I first went to Yogayama when they opened many years ago and it used to be The Yoga Place to be but several members I have spoken to are unhappy about the recent changes. Now, even the excellent Jivamukti qualified teacher Erik who taught a great class did not mention any. Jonas’s class that I went to last night didnt include any philosophy or pranayama either. It was a good class, but I didnt get my fill of YOGA. Dont get me wrong: I am not blaming the teachers here! I have been to their classes before.
From a customer point of view had Yogayama or UrbanOm kept the yoga style names I could have made a better choice of which class to choose. For example, both Erik and Jonas’s classes were billed as vinyasa but they could not have been more different in their approach.
I have a few classes left of my pack of 10 at Yogayama but I wont buy the monthly card as I have planned to after that.
After some discussion with the staff as Urban Om about the styles hidden under all the ”strong” and ”slow” flows I will try one of their classes out because it is near to work, but it need to be a class that respects the yoga tradition.
I will also give Altromondo a call and see if they allow their teachers to include the YOGA part of the yoga, what actually different a yogaclass from a gymnastic session. Yoga Shakti is also lovely, but only if I stick to named classes like their Virya or Ansuara.
Yogayama is now setting up as a franchise all over Sweden. If they do not allow classes to be branded for what they are or teachers to include philosophy, yoga will be watered down to the horrid gym version we all escaped to yoga studios from. Yoga without philosophy feels soulless.
I truly miss being able to do Jivamuktiyoga with a great strong tribe and skillful teacher. Suppose I have to go back to practising with my teachers at home online and via iTunes. Yoga is part of my life in so many ways even though I have retired from teaching. However, we yogis all need to be aware of what is happening to the yoga scene around us and choose those who honour the tradition over one-style-fits-all approach.